The message from Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei as its uri strode toward the High Court from their marae this morning was clear, that not one more hectare of land should be taken from the hapū. Hundreds of supporters recited karakia as they walked through central Auckland.
"Ngāti Whatua Ōrākei will no longer tolerate the Crown using our lands to settle the claims of another iwi. Today we want to make a statement to iwi such as Marutūahu from Hauraki, that no longer will we stand by and let you claim our land," Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei spokesperson Joe Pihema said.
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust deputy chair Ngarimu Blair said: "It is already known who the mana whenua of this region are, we are - from Takaparawhau down to Kohimaramara and out to Pītoitoi. During the hīkoi we will venture through some landmarks where our ancestors settled such as Taurarua and Waipapa."
Pihema said the Crown needed to disestablish the law to stop iwi from outside the region coming in and making claims on Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei whenua," Pihema said
The case is the latest development in a six-year legal battle by the tribe to assert its exclusive legal rights as mana whenua. The Ngāti Whātua land claim was settled in 2011. However, the Crown is dealing with claims from another iwi for the same land, which Ngāti Whātua opposes.
"There are three aspects to this issue to make our point more valid. Iwi taking land without any rights, genealogy and the home people being us, the descendants of Tupuriri," Blair said.
"Our message is final, do not come back here and claim what is not yours, to steal the assets and land that rightfully belongs to Ngāti Whātua and its uri," Pihema said.
Ngāti Whātua is not in this fight alone. Tauranga Moana also joined the march alongside other iwi facing similar cross-claim issues in their respected rohe.
Ngāi Te Rangi spokesperson Reon Tuanau who came to support the kaupapa said: "Within the Treaty claims the Cown also gave some of Tauranga Moana land to Hauraki. This is an ongoing dispute for Ngāi Te Rangi, a similar cross-claim situation to Ngāti Whātua."
The wider whānau and other hapū associated with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei from the Kaipara came to support, even some from Tauranga and Ngāti Paoa. The challenge was also sent to the cabinet minister and MP from Tamaki Makaurau, Peeni Henare.
"Some ministers are experts in our language and our protocols, like Peeni who is the MP for Tāmaki. Where is he?" Pihema asked.
Marutūāhu rejects claims
Later today Marutūāhu spokesperson John McEnteer said the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei hikoi was aimed at trying to influence a court decision, and to undermine the collective Treaty settlement which the Crown created to recognise the overlapping interests of the many mana whenua of Tāmaki Makaurau.
“The 2007 Waitangi Tribunal report into the settlements in Tāmaki Makaurau analysed these issues in considerable detail.
“The Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei hapu has spent the past 13 years on a fruitless campaign to claim hegemony to an area where many tribes have longstanding and deep historical ties.
“It is interesting that Ngati Whatua Orakei didn’t object to Marutūāhu’s whakapapa to the region when we made submissions supporting their Treaty settlement redress allocation in places outside their so-called heartland like the North Shore.”
Also, while the recent public comment from Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has singled out Marutūāhu, its claim of exclusivity also includes other tribes such as Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki, Te Ākitai Waiohua, Te Kawerau ā Maki and Waikato-Tainui among others.
McEnteer said due to the court hearing, it was not appropriate to comment further.